Why I Declined USC's Admissions Offer

Amidst the drama that sparked among the scandal involving wealthy family paying their way into colleges, many students are wondering: Why USC? By nature, USC is a very attractive university as they have a wide variety of academic programs and is located near downtown Los Angeles, the heart of the film and entertainment industry.

USC’s attractive points:

  • Diversity in programs - USC, being a private school, has a lot of diversity in their academic programs including those in arts, film, business, journalism engineering, and more. USC has been receiving a lot of the “hype” from Los Angeles and Hollywood, and thus programs/majors relating to Performing Arts & Cinema are very strong and popular. Being located new Los Angeles also means having available opportunities outside of campus for internships or post-graduate jobs.

  • Extremely strong alumni connections - USC is a very rich and wealthy school, mainly due to alumni donations. Some notable USC alumni include Rick Caruso, Will Ferrell, O.J. Simpson, and more. Famous figures, such as music artist Andre Young (also known as Dr. Dre) donate large amounts to USC, and have even constructed their own buildings and programs there. More funding means more resources, and there are plenty of opportunities you can receive through alumni connections.

  • Social life - Not only is USC great with academic diversity, but it also is known to have a great “Los Angeles-esque” social life, also known as the “work-hard-play-hard” attitude. The weather at Los Angeles is also generally nice and sunny, and there are many places of attraction nearby.

While I’m sure USC has other attracting factors (like many other colleges do), here is why I personally did not choose USC after being admitted:

  • Price - This is a HUGE factor. Without receiving any sort of financial aid or scholarship, USC is not very affordable for most students and families. USC’s cost of attendance is upward of ~$80,000 per year, which is almost three times the cost of attendance for a UC school. USC has too many fees on top of tuition. I felt that going to USC would not allow me to get the most “bang for my buck,” and unless I’m there for an insanely stellar program that I am absolutely smitten about, then it is not affordable nor worth it to me.

  • Social life - This could be perceived as a positive or negative thing, but for me, it’s slightly leaning toward the negative side. USC is very big on Greek life social culture. This isn’t as big of a factor, since every college will have some sort of party lifestyle. Additionally, I personally felt after a visitation that the “vibe” at USC tends to be relatively pretentious. This could be caused by the rich and wealthy Los Angeles culture at USC, but this is just my personal take-away from my on-campus experience. Also, the entire scandal involving wealthy parents paying their way for their children to get into colleges such as USC completely destroyed USC’s reputation in my mind.

  • Academic program strength - USC is very strong in many fields, especially pertaining to the arts. However, when it comes to fields such as STEM and engineering (specifically computer science), it falls behind. Viterbi does have wonderful resources and is a great program, but in comparison to schools such as Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon, and a few others. I am also interested in Economics, but USC does not have a particularly strong economics program.

  • Safety - South Central Los Angeles is a relatively dangerous place. Obviously, it’s important to be cautious and stay safe whenever you’re walking around campus and should always travel with a buddy, but USC has been renowned for having crimes occur around or near campus. Recently, a student was robbed and killed near campus: source here.

  • Transportation - This is a minor factor, but transportation around Los Angeles is both costly and tedious. There is a lot of traffic around the city, and transportation is extremely rough during peak hours.

So why would someone commit such a large fraud to get into USC? Well, USC is a wonderful institution by all means, but it’s not the ideal school for everyone. Here are just my personal reasons as to why I did not end up choosing USC, and hopefully this helps you gauge the importance of certain factors to help you with your college decision-making process.

Sleepless in California - Finding a Healthy Perspective in the College Application Process